A well-known Capitol Street bakery sustained minor damage in a late Tuesday night fire, closing the storefront for at least a week.
The Rock City Cake Company fire started in a room on the mezzanine floor being used to store Christmas trees and Halloween decorations, said Charleston Fire Marshal Richard Symns.
He and his colleagues still are investigating. Though firefighters contained the flames to the room on the mezzanine, a sprinkler above the ornaments went off, Symns said. Dry wall in the affected room was damaged.
Power remained off Wednesday afternoon. Inside was dark. From the sidewalk, one could smell faint smoke.
Though it represents only coincidence, one of the most tragic fires in Charleston history occurred at the same location, 205 Capitol St., in 1949. A plaque on the outside of the Rock City building identifies it as the Woolworth Building site and commemorates the deaths of seven firefighters.
Rock City co-owner Morgan Morrison posted a statement on Facebook:
“While it’s extremely frustrating, and the last thing we wanted to deal with right before a major holiday, this could have gone a lot worse in many ways. At the end of the day, we were choosing to look at the bright side of things and we are just beyond thankful everyone is safe.
“With all of that being said, the bakery store front will be closed for a minimum of a week depending on the speed of things, which will be unpredictable with the upcoming holidays.”
Symns agreed the situation could have been worse.
“It proved that sprinkler systems work,” Symns said. “Maybe some of these other buildings in the city can start putting sprinklers in, some of the older, existing high-rises.”
State code does not require sprinklers in older buildings, he said. Perhaps those owners should reconsider, he said.
In a building without a sprinkler, Symns said, firemen must lug hoses on their shoulders up flights of steps, battling smoke and fatigue, to pump from the truck. The truck battles gravity as it pushes water upward.
The sprinklers saved the building but caused complications, Morrison said on Facebook.
“Our sprinkler system was activated and essentially soaked the entire place,” Morrison said. “We will not have access to power until the electrical panel is replaced and clean up from ServePro is complete.” She praised the fire department for its quick response.
Morrison said her business still would play a role in the big Holly Jolly Brawley event on Black Friday, an extension and expansion of the Christmas tree walk set up in downtown Charleston last year.
The walkway will feature more than 50 decorated holiday trees lining both sides of the walkway and the Lee Street Triangle, decorated by area businesses.